What about cumin?

Happy Easter weekend. Hope you got a lot of chocolate if that’s your thing. Weather’s been lovely last few days, but we’re about to enter a short period of cold. Annoying. Mother Nature not cooperating. Plants are cheerful and doing their thing outside, so hoping no frosts overnight. Cleaned front windows, door and courtyard. Feeling virtuous.

Did you know a grouping of wild rabbits is called a ‘fluffle’? I found that out after seeing the first grouping of rabbits this year in a field. It occurred to me that I didn’t know what this conclave was called. So, I looked it up. Made me ridiculously happy.

Anyway, last week, I was thinking about writing about cumin. Then, Portia mentioned its presence in the Byredo Tobacco Mandarin post. So, I guess it was meant to be.

I love cumin for cooking. If at a loss regarding flavouring, my general attitude is ‘throw in some cumin’. I like it in some perfumes as well but not with the same enthusiasm. I guess it depends on the old vs new sweat aspect.

I use cumin in a lot of things. For some reason, Wednesday-Friday (the days I don’t have the hated client) I tend to get work later in the day which means frequently dinner is thrown together quickly. I’ve become adept at quick salsa, guac and Mex style chicken (cinnamon, oregano, ginger, garlic powder [and sometimes more grated garlic], cayenne, salt, pepper and cumin [lots of cumin]) with rice. Easy, quick, very satisfying. I buy a shawarma spice we use a lot that contains cumin, but sometimes something needs even more cumin. You get the picture.

As to cumin in perfumes, as I said I find it can be a mixed bag. When I was looking up cumin in fragrance my beloved Mitsouko popped up. Never knew that.

I’ve loved it in Rochas Femme, where it seems tempered by the fruit but is still very apparent in the refined ponginess of the fragrance. Apparently the newest formulation has a lot of cumin.

It overwhelmed in Diptyque l’Autre, which was less a perfume and more a liquid spice cabinet on the skin. However, I’m still sad I gave away my bottle, as I’m now sure I could have layered it successfully. Something with vanilla …

Apparently it’s in Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur. Sadly, MR is decidedly tame on me. I know lots of people find it utterly animalic but on me … nah. Just a nice, soft skin scent – and I definitely don’t get cumin. Many years ago I did a split of Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan with a US-based friend (lord I miss that bell jar). Now that was a musk with oomph – and there was cumin buried among the rest of the serious down and dirty notes.

A couple of perfumes purported to be a cumin-fests that I haven’t actually smelled are Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant and McQueen Kingdom. I was looking for info on the former and came upon a picture of the bottle with an elephant stopper. Seriously, the bottle is worth buying just for that. Plus, it’s by Dominique Ropion. Fruit, spices, some anise stuff going on. Kingdom is described as amber spicy and none of the notes lists that jumped to the top of my Google search included cumin – even though I’ve read it’s seriously down and dirty.

Finally, Estee Lauder’s Cinnabar popped up. But, according to the Fragrantica list, no cumin. Just cloves and other such things. I sampled Cinnabar decades ago but it didn’t make me go oooh. Still, a fair number of people have said it’s glorious so now I’m wondering about getting ahold of some.

Right. Are you positive or negative on cumin? If it’s the former, in food/perfume or both, and what do you put it in/are your faves?

  • Annie Amos says:

    Count me in as being on the side of cumin in perfume = sweaty-smelling. Don’t cook with cumin, but no objection if someone else does…

  • HeidiC says:

    I am All. About. the Cumin. I actually love the Rochas Femme reformulation, and SL’s Fleurs d’Oranger is orange blossom all smutted up with armpitty cumin — it smells like post-coital skin. I never smelled it in L’Elephant or Cinnabar, but I love both, so no problem there. Side note: even the L’Elephant miniature bottle has a wee elephant stopper! It’s the most squee-worthy li’l thing ever!

  • Diana says:

    I’m not a fan of cumin or clove in fragrance and can enjoy either spice in food only if added with a light hand. I don’t like anything in fragrance that reminds me of sweaty underarms or baby diapers.

  • Dina C. says:

    The only scent in my entire collection that has cumin in it is SL Fleurs d’Oranger, so no, cumin is not on my Greatest Hits List. I love Tex-Mex food, so I enjoy it there though. For me, in cooking, cardamom is the spice that I think jazzes up food. I love it in homemade chicken noodle soup especially. Love it in scents too, like Cartier Declaration.

    • Cinnamon says:

      FdO didn’t work on me. Like Musc Ravageur I’d read it was big but on me it was sort of wan. Cardamom. Love cardamom but I’ve only had it in cakes regarding food. My favourite local baker throws it into loaf cakes sometimes (rose and cardamom is great). Wonderful.

  • I’m Latino, so it was in EVERYTHING i grew up eating so I’m a fan. While i love it in that Byredo for sure, i find it in things like L’Artisan’s Al Oudh just TOO TOO much. Less is more for me.

    • Musette says:

      In chow, cumin makes the world a better place! 😉 In perfume… eh. I remember the first time I smelled Femenite du Bois and all I could think of was ‘who hasn’t taken a shower this morning?’. xoxo

    • Cinnamon says:

      Interesting. I def agree with the less can be more in perfume. As to food, the more the merrier when it comes to cumin 🙂

  • March says:

    Ha! I LOVE heavy cumin in fragrances, I wish I could remember them all…. Kingdom definitely (clarifying that if the cumin’s not all UP IN YOUR FACE I don’t really count it.) Vero Rubj, which is stunning but I think impossible to get anymore. The reformulated Femme was (at least for awhile) very cumin-heavy, not sure if that’s still true? Vintage Femme, no cumin on me. The super-cumin Serge Lutens… El Attarine, I believe. Stunnnnnnnnning. I adore Cinnabar but it doesn’t smell at all like cumin to me (nor Mitsouko.) Jungle Elephant is a lot of everything, lol, I sold or swapped my bottle. It was just too much too much even for me, and very sweet.

    • Cinnamon says:

      I’m now gong to have to have another go at Rubj … and maybe see about a sample of El Attarine. I’m getting very curious about Jungle Elephant .. just because. But I imagine a sample will be hard to come by.

  • Pam says:

    I enjoy cumin in food, but moderately. I would love to get ahold of a bottle of Kingdom (I would buy it blind because of what I’ve heard about it). I have Jungle l’Elephant and it is pretty fabulous. Yes, the bottle is really good.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Kingdom is another thing I’ve put on the list to look for in charity shops once they are open again. I’m not sure why I have this need to big up the cumin in what I cook. When I do Mexican chicken I’ll put in spoonfuls of the other spices, but really go to town with the cumin. I’ll have to look up if it has any specific health properties.

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    Cumin doesn’t smell terribly sweaty to me but I’m sure that’s because I am used to the smell of sweaty man, so it just doesn’t register anymore in a big or forward way. I can often detect its presence, which I like.
    Did you ever try the Cartier Declaration series? They have a sweaty and oily waft through them. Vero’s Rubj seems to too, and it’s on the note lists, but I have a vague recollection of Vero or Val saying it didn’t.
    I used to use cumin in curries but Jin doesn’t like the Indian curries I make so I rarely do them anymore. It’s a shame, I love them.
    Portia xx

    • Cinnamon says:

      I think I tried Declaration years ago. No memory of it. Will have to have another go. I don’t get it in Rubj if it’s there. Hmmm, can you make the curries for yourself and have them solo for lunches, etc? I’m not terribly good at curries, but my Mexican food isn’t bad.

      • Portia says:

        I definitely could make them for myself but there always seems to be such a plethora of leftovers here because Jin doesn’t like to eat the same thing (byproduct of growing up dirt poor). So I get to finish everything. YAY!
        My last long term partner is Indian do I learned a lot from him. No experts but I have some skills.
        We love to do tacos and nachos but that’s as far as our Mexican goes.
        Portia xx

        • Cinnamon says:

          that makes sense — Jin wanting variety now. It took years for decent Mexican to arrive in Brooklyn (friends from the West Coast used to shake their heads and say ‘what do you expect?’). But in the early ’90s there was a sort of soft explosion of burrito bars. I wish they’d come here…

  • Tara C says:

    I can take cumin in perfume in small, well-blended doses. I don’t mind it in food but I have never intentionally added any.

    • Cinnamon says:

      you made me laugh — ‘never intentionally added any’. I guess it’s one of those either you do or don’t things, like Marmite (hate it).

  • Musette says:

    Luckily I never get cumin in Mitsouko nor Femme contemp because I am No Fan. Love it in food but all I ever get with cumin in perfume is armpit. And while I’m okay with a bit of armpit on an actual body I have no wish to deliberately wear it.
    Kingdom has a hefty slug of cumin, which is why it’s on my no-fly list. Alas. Because other than that, it’s a pretty spectacular perfume.

    Oooh! LOVE ‘fluffle’. Unless that fluffle is in my garden… then I still love the word – just not the actual fluffle.


    • Cinnamon says:

      No, I don’t get it in Mitsouko either. Femme a bit. Yup, every time I check for the rabbits now I think ‘is the fluffle out’? It’s back to being cold this week (around zero overnight) so I expect I won’t see them until next week, when it warms up. I don’t get them in my garden. Foxes every once in a while (not partial to foxes) and the local cats (which are annoying).